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Laura Faith Kebede

Here are seven things to know about Memphis schools as a new school year kicks off

As students start classes Monday at Shelby County Schools, here are seven things to know:

  1. Shelby County Schools is Tennessee’s largest public school district and projects an enrollment of about 107,000 students in 2016-17, down 2 percent from 109,489 in the 2015-16 school year.
  2. The school board and Shelby County Commission approved a $959 million budget for this year, including a 3 percent raise for most teachers.
  3. This year’s new school board will be the same as the old one when newly elected officials are sworn in on Aug. 30. Incumbent Stephanie Love won the only contested race last week, and four other incumbents — Miska Clay Bibbs, Teresa Jones, Scott McCormick and Kevin Woods — ran unopposed.
  4. The district has been recognized as a national leader in closing the achievement gap between students from low-income families and their more advantaged peers.
  5. School closures, eight in all, dominated education headlines last school year in Memphis. This fall, a long-awaited facilities study will present a plan to “right-size” the under-enrolled district so that the number of desks better match the number of students.
  6. Four schools that were with Shelby County Schools last school year are now charter schools under the control of Tennessee’s Achievement School District. The ASD has authority under state law to take over schools in the state’s bottom 5 percent academically. Last year, the state-run district authorized charter operator Scholar Academies to run Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary and Raleigh-Egypt Middle School beginning in 2016-17, while Green Dot Public Schools has converted Hillcrest High and Kirby Middle.
  7. The ASD won’t take over additional schools in Memphis or anywhere else in Tennessee next school year. After the state ran into a myriad of problems with its new standardized TNReady test, the state-run district announced a hiatus year to allow schools to adjust.